Feel like a nice cool glass of ice water? Before you take a sip, you might want to take a quick tour of your home. How’s the fill valve in your toilet? Do you have a vacuum breaker on your outside spigots? What about your boiler?
Without the right plumbing bits and pieces in place, you could be at risk of drinking toilet water, sipping lawn fertilizers or slurping hazardous chemicals. If they aren’t protected, cross connections between the drinking water in your home and nonpotable water sources can mean that dirty water gets mixed with the clean. It might take as little as a change in water pressure.
A review of state records by I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS shows that throughout Colorado, hazardous cross connections rate among the most persistent public-health risks in water-distribution systems.
I-News found that 30 percent of water providers inspected by the state since 2009 was found to be in violation for something related to cross connections or backflow – most often issues related to documenting or managing risks. And 9 percent of the water systems were found to have potentially hazardous cross connections.
Among schools operating their own small water systems, inspectors found cross connection issues to be even more prevalent. About 47 percent were found to be in some kind of violation of cross connection or backflow rules, while risky cross connections were found in 19 percent of the schools, according to a recent analysis by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.